Alison’s Blog: Time to update her marathon checklist

Alison brooklyn_half_1

All of Alison’s hard work will pay off this weekend as she competes in the NYC Marathon. We are so proud and happy for her. We knew she could do it and she has inspired many along the way! Read about her prep before the race. It’s been an incredible journey. If you’re aspiring to run a marathon someday like Alison, you may want to get yourself an online running coach.


Outfit picked and tested out? Check.

Pre-race nutrition figured out? Check.

Train schedule to the City memorized? Check.

Nerves in check? Aaaaahhhhhh!!!!!

OK, anyone who knows me knows that I make plans and backup plans. I practice race courses, look up parking regulations near my races, pack my bag at least the night before if not earlier. I organize, plan, research, test. I do all of this to calm myself down. I don’t like surprises, and I do everything in my power to avoid them.

For my marathon in 8 days (and Holy – poop, by the way), I have been following weather patterns, memorizing the course, pouring over maps of the starting villages. I’ve tracked the iPhone tracker, learned 3 different routes to get to the Expo where I have to pick up my bib, even found the quickest way to escape Central Park when it’s over. And has all of this calmed me down? Not in the least. To put it mildly, I am a wreck.

I’m nervous for so many reasons. There’s the obvious one of “I can’t believe I’m intentionally going to subject my body to running 26.2 miles,” but I have other concerns as well: is this going to be exceptionally painful? Will I finish? Out of 45,000 runners, am I going to be last? Do I even belong here?

I think it’s the last question that is nagging at me the most. “Fat Girl” can’t do this. “Fat Girl” could never finish anything except an entire mushroom and pepperoni pizza or a Big Mac with large fries and a Coke. Simply put, “Fat Girl” doesn’t belong in a starting corral at the New York City marathon.

This thought accompanied me on my run this morning. Today was my last “long” run before the marathon. Since I’m now tapering, the run was relatively short, just 8 miles. I kind of miss the longer runs, but today I don’t quite mind just 8 miles. There is a freakish October snow storm coming (that later in the day ended up taking down my neighbor’s tree – into my house – but let’s save that for another blog) and I want to get my run in before the snow starts (and I spend the day on the phone with insurance companies, but during my run I’m enjoying the ignorant bliss of not being able to see into the future).

Lately, my runs have been horrible. My foot still hurts, and my runs have gotten slow, so slow that I’m using a little creative license by calling them “runs” instead of “jogs” or even “brisk strolls”. I’ve somehow gone from running about a 9 minute mile to an 11:30 one. Multiply that out by 26.2 and that adds 78 minutes and 36 seconds onto my time (you can pull out a calculator, but trust me, The math is dead on balls accurate).

I’ve been stressing about my sudden slowness a lot. At one point I decide that “Fit Girl” is the one who can run a 9 minute mile, but “Fat Girl” is the one training for the marathon, which means that I’m just going to fail. But this morning all I think when I leave for my run is “beat the storm”. So, I take off. Normally I wear my music with the volume low enough so that I can hear cars and other people. Not today. I crank the volume way up, so music is the only thing I focus on. The song has a fast beat, and I stick with it. At the one mile mark I look at my watch. I’m just under 11 minutes. Ok, that’s a little better, but not great. I go faster.

Just as I hit the turn around at mile 4, it starts to drizzle. I really want to beat this storm, so I just go faster. I remind myself that even if “Fat Girl” has been sabotaging my runs, “Fit Girl” is still in there, and she likes to go fast. I remind myself of what I’ve accomplished, and that after losing 70 pounds, keeping my weight off for over 2 years, and finishing 6 half marathons and 7 triathlons that outrunning a storm should be no big deal. As Peter K always reminds me, I can do this.

At mile 5, I hit a nice sized down hill (that at mile 3 was a horrific uphill), and I go even faster. At the bottom, instead of slowing I keep that momentum for at least a mile. I am finally letting “Fit Girl” do a run, and she is loving the exercise.

When I turn the last corner before my house, I take off at a sprint. I get to my stoop and stop my stopwatch: 1:26:07. Later I figure out that that is a 10:37 mile, but right now all I know is that I have finally gotten myself to go faster. And, the big storm hasn’t started yet. Mission accomplished.

As I climb the steps to my house, I think about this last long run. When I wasn’t focusing so much on the marathon, I was able to get myself out of my comfort zone and push myself again. My time is still slower than before I got injured, but it’s better than it has been in weeks. I realize that my nerves are more settled now. Time to update my marathon checklist.

1 comment for this entry:

  • Craig

    Alison I am so concerned about the race too. I lost a full month of training in September because of my knee. I felt sorry for myself and then I said screw it let’s run. I have only maxed my running at 16 miles. I did that 3 times but I didn’t have time to push it. Great article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. If you show up you will finish. So get there and the rest will fall into place. I will be eating your dust. My goal 11 minute miles. Slow and steady. What is your coral and start time?